Pregnancy and COVID-19: Staying safe during a pandemic

When you’re expecting a baby, there’s a lot to learn and plan for in anticipation of bringing a little human into the world – and that’s in “normal times.” Now, in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you have many other things to think about to keep you and your baby safe.

Pregnant women don’t appear to be more susceptible to the coronavirus, and it isn’t likely to spread between mother and baby during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Still, studies show that pregnant women are more affected by some infections, including the flu virus, so it’s always a good idea to follow the hygiene recommendations (frequent hand washing, not touching your face, etc.) we’ve been practicing during the pandemic.

Safe prenatal visits with your OB or midwife

Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll be checking in with your obstetrician (OB) or midwife on a regular basis. These visits are very important for your health and the health of your baby, so don’t skip them if you’re concerned about safety.

Our clinics and hospitals are following CDC safety guidelines to ensure you’re safe when you visit your OB or midwife.

“To help keep moms safe, we have timed visits so moms aren’t in waiting rooms,” explained Trina Jellison, Group Vice President of Women and Children’s Institute at Providence. “And we’ve ensured that all staff are screened prior to caring for patients.”

Given the current situation, you may also want to schedule a virtual visit, which will allow you to speak to your OB or midwife by video or phone from the comfort of your home.

Labor and delivery during COVID-19

Talk to your OB or midwife about where you plan to deliver your baby and the precautions the facility takes to minimize your risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Since it’s important to have a support person with you during labor and delivery, get updated visitor information from the facility ahead of time so you and your loved one(s) know what to expect when your big day comes.

Here are some of the ways we’re keeping you, your baby and family safe when you enter our facilities for labor and delivery:

  • All our employees and doctors must assess their own health each day before work, and stay home if they have symptoms.
  • Everyone is screened for fever prior to entering the hospital. Anyone with a fever (except for patients) will be turned away.
  • If employees or doctors develop COVID-19 symptoms at work, they are required to leave.
  • We have a temporary no visitor policy, with an exemption for one adult visitor in the maternity unit.
  • We are treating COVID-19 patients in a separate area of the hospital to contain the virus, which keeps other areas safe, such as our maternity unit.
  • We continuously disinfect the entire hospital.
  • You and your baby will be discharged as soon as we know you are well enough to go home, and our care team will follow up.
  • We know you want to introduce loved ones to the new member of the family, but please consider video chats to show off your baby.

Bonding and breastfeeding

After your baby is born, skin-to-skin bonding is a special time, and it’s important for your baby’s development. Breastfeeding is also an emotionally rich part of bonding for many new moms. In fact, research shows breastfeeding deepens a connection that continues for years after your child is weaned.

“We definitely support the bonding of mom and baby. The only difference is if mom is [COVID-19] positive and still wishes to breastfeed we will ask her to wear a mask with a face shield while feeding her baby,” said Jellison.

The CDC states that it’s unlikely, according to limited data, that mothers with COVID-19 can spread the virus to babies in their breastmilk, but an infection is still possible if a baby is exposed to the virus in droplets. Some professional sources, including the CDC, recommend separating a COVID-19 positive mom from her newborn as an extra safety measure. But that hasn’t been adopted universally. 

“We’ve approached this [separating mom from newborn] by educating and informing, and letting the family make the decision regarding the care of the baby,” said Jellison.   

If you have COVID-19, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of breastfeeding and the extra precautions you should take to protect your newborn.

Post-delivery: Well-child and vaccine visits

Well-child visits are essential to giving your little one a healthy start in life by giving you insights into your child’s growth and development. During these visits your child’s doctor will measure and weigh baby, talk to you about feeding habits, and perform routine screening tests.

This stage of your baby’s life is also an important time for vaccines, which help build immunity before baby is exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. “Many years ago, families were faced with several childhood illnesses, including those that led to death. Thankfully immunizations have been developed to ensure that babies and their families don’t have to face these challenges today,” said Jellison.

Stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s important that we all remain vigilant as we transition into new phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even after your city or region re-opens, continue to:

  • Practice social distancing
  • Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Wear a mask when in public
  • Clean, disinfect and launder often

If you’re pregnant, follow those safety precautions, and also:

  • Limit stress in your life (stress can affect a pregnancy)
  • Don’t skip prenatal and after-delivery care
  • If you have an urgent medical question, always call your provider. In case of emergency, call 911 or go to your local emergency department.

If you have questions about your pregnancy during COVID-19, talk to your OB or midwife. If you're thinking about starting a family and want to speak to a professional, you can find a compassionate expert in your area:

Northern California

Southern California

Oregon

Washington

Montana

Alaska

Covenant Health

Kadlec

Learn more about what we’re doing to help keep you informed and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related resources

https://blog.providence.org/regional-blog-news/providence-emphasizes-safety-across-our-hospitals-safety-our-top-priority

https://blog.providence.org/leadership-perspectives-2/providence-partners-with-providers-across-socal-for-community-health

 

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

While it's your birth, bringing babies into this world is our passion. The Providence Maternity Team is committed to giving expectant and new moms with tips, advice, and hacks to help ease the inherent stress and uncertainty that accompanies being a parent.

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